Why Marvel's Inhumans Was Cancelled

The Inhumans received a lot of hype before its release but was quickly canceled. Take a look at what went wrong behind the scenes for the ABC series.

Why Marvel's Inhumans Was Cancelled

2017 was a great year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the movies ,with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarök all earning rave reviews and lighting up the box office. Yet the television side was a much more disappointing story and the biggest mark on the MCU's brand was the release of Inhumans.

Originally planned as part of Marvel's Phase 3 lineup of films, the project was shifted into being a television series that would air on ABC in the mid-break between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season. Despite a big marketing push, the series was roundly rejected by fans and critics alike. It is often regarded as one of the worst things made by Marvel and has done quite a bit of damage to the brand.

Despite Marvel television planning three seasons, and the characters being set up as an important part of the MCU's future, Inhumans was cancelled after only one season. How did it all go so wrong? Let's see how a series of bad creative decisions behind the scenes took what had the potential to be the next major Marvel franchise and turn it into an almost forgotten relic. Who Are the Inhumans? Marvel Comics Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Inhumans were introduced as a species in Fantastic Four #45 in 1965, although the character of Medusa was introduced earlier in Fantastic Four #36 nine months prior.

Inhumans were a subset of prehistoric humans that were experimented on by the blue alien race The Kree, with their purpose to be used against the Skrulls. Inhumans split off from humanity and formed their own society, and experiments with the mutagenic Terrigen Mist gave them various powers in a process known as Terrigenesis. The process could cause lasting genetic damage and deformities, which led to a long-term selective breeding program in an attempt to mitigate the effects of these mutations.

Only a select few were chosen to undergo the treatment, with the most powerful being the Inhuman royal family led by Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans who never speaks; his voice is so powerful that even a whisper could level a mountain. Disney-ABC In 2014 during Marvel's Phase 3 announcement, Inhumans was one of the movies the studio announced and set for release on November 2, 2018, between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Parts of the Inhumans mythology were developed across Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., likely as a way to get audiences ready for the movie.

Yet in April 2016, the film was taken off the release schedule. At the same time, the divisions between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television were further divided as Kevin Feige began to directly report to Disney executive Alan Horn and not Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, who pushed for Inhumans. By November 2016, it was announced that Marvel Television would develop an Inhumans series.

The series was given a big push particularly as it was a collaboration with the IMAX corporation with the first two episodes set to premiere exclusively in IMAX theaters for two weeks starting September 1 before the series premiered on ABC on September 29, 2017. However, this only served to hurt Inhumans as it was clearly made on a network television budget, and the poor costumes and shoddy visual effects only looked worse on a massive IMAX screen. The audience who did go to see it in IMAX reacted negatively to it, killing off a lot of early momentum before the series hit the airwaves.

Disney-ABC The biggest reason ABC canceled Inhumans was that the series was simply not good, and part of that was the result of creative decisions behind the scenes, as they didn't invest in the property the way it needed. Marvel Television hired Scott Buck as the series' showrunner, whose previous track record on what many regard as the worst seasons of Dexter and the disastrous Iron Fist should have raised some alarms. Yet Buck was notable for getting projects in quickly and under budget, and that certainly shows with Inhumans.

Many of Buck's decisions for the series seem like a way to reduce the budget, like cutting Medusa's hair and reducing the screen time for the teleporting dog Lockjaw, taking away much of what made the franchise unique and worthy of adaptation. Marvel's cheapness on the project, for a franchise that requires a certain scope, certainly hurt the series as many fans commented on how low-budget Inhumans looked in the first photos and trailers. The ratings for the series dropped fast.

While the first two episodes premiered to 5.8 million viewers, by the time the finale aired on November 10, 2017, it was down to 3.6 million viewers. There was also an extremely poor critical reaction, as it holds an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. Inhumans was a massive disappointment for Disney and Marvel.

Even before the official announcement of its cancelation on May 11, 2018, everybody knew Inhumans was done for. The series was quickly forgotten about by many at Marvel Television, as even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which spent two and a half seasons developing the Inhumans mythology) quickly moved along to other storylines involving aliens, time travel, and even Ghost Rider.

Marvel Comics Marvel seemed to be betting big on the Inhumans back in 2014, as the characters were getting a big push in the comics and the planned feature film hinted that they'd have a major role in the MCU. This has now led to speculation on what their role in the franchise would have been had the movie not been scrapped, or had the show not be cancelled. The original role of the Inhumans in the MCU was to allow Marvel Studios to introduce a whole host of people with powers without needing to have an origin story for every power, essentially filling in for the mutants and the X-Men, as Marvel didn't have those rights at the time.

Following the purchase of 20th Century Fox, however, Marvel Studios now does have the X-Men and can use mutants if they choose. They even changed the origin of the character Ms. Marvel from her comic book Inhuman roots to a mutant.

Eternals might have been Marvel Studios' replacement for Inhumans, as development on their film was announced in 2018 less than a year after Inhumans was a bomb and canceled. Those characters fill the void with an ancient alien species living on Earth that were created by an alien force. Like the Inhumans, the Eternals have a complicated family-like structure and infighting and in many ways seem like the MCU replacement.

Yet with Anson Mount returning as Black Bolt, be it one from a different universe, in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness it goes to show that Marvel Studios may not have completely abandoned these characters. The multiverse saga is set to introduce a lot of characters and concepts, so the Inhumans brand may need some more time to recover. Who knows, though, maybe by the next big multiphase of the MCU the Inhumans can make their grand return.